For many people New Year's Eve means breaking out the bubbly, but all too often the bottles are kept socked away until midnight. That's a shame. Good Champagne and other sparkling wines are great to enjoy throughout the evening (in moderation, of course). And as a bonus, modest wines easily take on a new, more luscious character with just a little help from the liquor cabinet.
Livening up a sparkling wine can be as easy as putting together a Champagne Cocktail, with a sugar cube to ensure a constant stream of bubbles, and bitters to add complexity. Simple to prepare, easy on the eyes and damn tasty to boot, the Champagne Cocktail is a pleasant way to dip into the bubbly while ringing in the new year.
Other ideas, if you're serving sparkling wine over the holiday and are looking for something new? Try perking up the drink by rinsing the glass with a teaspoon or so of good quality liqueur before pouring the wine. Cointreau, Grand Marnier or Rhum Clement Creole Shrubb will contribute a delicate orange quality to the drink, while a little apricot liqueur (Rothman & Winter Orchard Apricot and Marie Brizard Apry are both good choices) gives the wine a special fruity twist. A splash of green Chartreuse gives the bubbly extra mystery, while a little crème de violette—Rothman & Winter is the choice here again—gives the drink an intriguing floral aspect. A little experimentation goes a long way; just be sure to use a brut, or dry sparkling wine, since the liqueur will contribute enough sweetness to make the drink pleasant without veering into cloying.
- Yield:makes 1 cocktail
- Active time: 2 minutes
- Total time:2 minutes
- Sugar cube
- Angostura or Peychaud's bitters
- Dry Champagne or other sparkling wine
- Lemon twist, for garnish
Place the sugar cube on a small saucer and douse with two or three dashes of bitters. Place the sugar in the bottom of a Champagne flute, and fill with sparkling wine (careful—the sugar will make the wine foam, so go slow). Twist a piece of lemon peel over the drink and use as garnish.